Vacations that start with a clue? Kalamazoo's latest Entrepreneurs - Changing the way you look at Travel0
In this life, I have learned that there two kinds of people: those who go on vacation, and those who vacation. The following is a narrative for the latter. Calling all adventure seekers, risk takers, go-getters, and grab-life-by-the-horns enthusiasts: I've got an idea for you.
Whether you're looking for a one-day getaway, a 10-day luxury international vacation, or something in between, Cluventure has a fun-filled exploration waiting for you. Started by entrepreneur Desi Taylor and business partner Monica Stefanac in 2016, Cluventure is a travel agency that creates custom vacations for people of all interests, incomes, and appetites for adventure. Travelers book an undefined adventure online, fill out a questionnaire about their personal interests, and meet with an adventure specialist to better define their expectations. The team at Cluventure then creates a series of clues leading up to departure. Once the adventure begins, vacationers follow the clues to enjoy a one-of-a-kind vacation experience unlike anything else on the market.
The idea originated from a Taylor family past time. "My dad used to set up these treasure hunts around the house," Desi said. "Us kids would wait in a closed room while he set it up, and then we would run around trying to find the clues." Fast forward a few years, and the Portage Northern graduate created a 3-week scavenger hunt for her own anniversary. People began to take notice, and after a few 'I'd pay you for that' comments, Cluventure was born. To date, 71 unique vacations have been organized - from local birthday parties to extravagant international experiences - and all with a 5-star post trip rating.
"The goal of Cluventure is to reinstall a sense of childlike wonder," Taylor explained. "Young people have the world at their fingertips; there aren't any surprises anymore. People are looking for an element of mystery and adventure."
But it took some hard work to get the company off the ground. Faced with traditional small business struggles, along with the uncertainty of a new industry, Taylor and co. applied for the Starting Gate business accelerator program through Western Michigan University. The program connected Cluventure with a business professional for weekly strategic planning sessions, advertising strategy, social media counsel, and more. Through Starting Gate, the team at Cluventure was able to network with other entrepreneurs, both locally and regionally, as they grew and developed.
Taylor expressed her gratitude for Starting Gate, and supportive local community. "I love Kalamazoo," she said, "It's my hometown. No matter how many times I move away, I always feel such a connection here. I know the people, the businesses, and growing up here gave me a huge advantage because those connections are truly invaluable to any success."
Cluventure has made several Kalamazoo connections already. The company teamed up with local businesses and vendors to create a scavenger hunt around the city. Over a dozen teams signed up to explore Kalamazoo's best kept secrets and spectacular sights. In addition, Cluventure has hired local designers, printers, and vendors to share the love across the Kalamazoo community.
So what's next for Cluventure? Taylor described a desire to move into the corporate retreat space, along with app development. But for now, the company plans to focus on what they do best: provide once-in-a-lifetime, custom vacation adventures for thrill-seekers around the world.
Quick Connect with Desi Taylor
- Favorite Vacation? I went to Australia for my 18th birthday and stayed with friends who threw me a party!
- Favorite Stress-Relief Activity? Hanging out with friends.
- Favorite Things about Kalamazoo? That it's my home. The energy, the people, the community, and the connection I feel to it. The fact that I've got to see it grow and change so much in the 26 years, and I'm excited to see what direction it heads because it's growing. There is a lot happening here!
- Something no one else knows about you? I can solve two Rubik's cubes at the same time. I'm a huge pinball nerd. I'm at one well once a week playing pinball - "I just happened to do a pinball crawl in Milwaukee lol." All day - Adams Family is the best machine.
- Favorite Band? Fleetwood Mac - Band and Story and Talking Heads.